PM offered marines for proof against Sonia? Cong seeks answers

Brand-new DELHI: The Congress on Tuesday sought answers from the PMO in the wake of a report by a Kolkata-based daily in which the Narendra Modi government is accused of offering freedom for two Italian marines in exchange for evidence linking Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and her family to the AgustaWestland copter scam.

“PMO needs to answer on this issue,” party’s chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala remarked. He was asked to react to a report in Telegraph, which spoke of a British arms agent wanted by Indian investigators in the scam of making such an allegation.

Party general secretary Digvijaya Singh took to Twitter to pose a question to Modi on the matter. “Mr Prime Minister is it a fact?” he asked on the microblogging site by posting a picture of the report alongside.

Christian Michel, the 54-year-old agent, has actually made the allegations in a letter to the Worldwide Tribunal of the Law of the Seas in Hamburg and the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague where Italy and India are battling legally over murder charges versus the marines.

Michel has actually claimed Modi made the offer at a secret “brush-by” meeting along with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi during the UN general assembly in September 2015 when both leaders were in Brand-new York.

AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of the Italian firm Finmeccanica at the time, was the firm that in 2010 won the contract to supply 12 choppers to India for Rs 3,600 crore, specifically to fly the President, Vice-President and Prime Minister at high altitudes.
The newspaper also said the foreign ministry has actually dismissed the charges as “ridiculous”, while Italy has actually not responded to them. Telegraph further reports that Michel told the daily that he knows the charges are serious, but he stands by them.
On February 15, 2012, two Indian fishermen were shot dead by the Italian marines on board the merchant ship Enrica Lexi. The marines — Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone— said they mistook them as pirates and acted in self-defence while the ship was in Worldwide waters. However, India has actually maintained they were deliberately shot dead without any provocation in Indian territorial waters. The marines were arrested and charged along with murder.
The case has actually since then strained the diplomatic ties between the two countries and reached its lowest point in history.

(along with inputs from PTI)

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